Steam Pipe Radiator Covers and Keeping Kids Safe from Radiators

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Radiator covers are your responsibility as a parent (not the landlord's). How do you make sure kids don't touch the radiators or pipes? You can either purchase covers (price ranges from $150 - $500) or fabric pads (e.g., Rad Pads, $50-$100), have covers especially made (see PSP recommendations of people who can make them for you), or some of the less costly alternatives given by PSP members::

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Cordon Off the Area:

“Using furniture and baby gates/fences to build barriers for a year or so you'll need to worry about protecting him.”

“We used 2 Little Playzones put together (I think the brand is Friendly Toys) and it was the best thing ever. It worked until my son was about 2 and settled down a bit. After bedtime we would just fold them.”

"I rearranged some furniture in the living area to create a physical barrier."

“We cordoned off a somewhat smaller space (for much the same reason) using a play yard plus an extra two-section add-on. It’s not beautiful, but it worked fairly well in letting our son play in the middle of the room while we did other things– it’s big enough to stand up fairly stably (with one side against a wall in our case, mainly so it wouldn’t move around too much). You could get two of them for a bigger area.”

 

Covering Pipes and Radiators:

"We wrapped our steam pipe with a heavy jute. The important thing about rope is that it is a natural fiber (nylon or polys will melt). The jute we bought came from either Home Depot or Lowe and there was information on the package about maximum temperature (it was rather high if I remember correctly).”

“We used foam formed insulation on pipes (purchased at Home Depot) with no problems with melting. We used it at a previous apartment with no problems as well but our current apartment has an incredibly hot pipe and it did melt the foam."

“We use pipe wrap, insulation with a pvc covering.”

“We covered (wrapped tightly) the radiator in his bedroom with several layers of old beach towels, which created a soft insulation as well as muted the heat. I had some initial concerns about the safety concept of towels on a hot radiator, but the towels remain in place three years later and now that my son is older, he understands why he is not supposed to touch the radiators during the winter months. I never ended up buying the radiator covers.”

 

Let the kids learn to NOT touch:

“We have uncovered radiators all over the place, and each kid has brushed up against them at some point or other - ONCE. then they know, and will ask if it is hot or watch out to avoid it. I think that this is healthy and fine to do, and that one need not go to all sorts of trouble to protect the kid when you can teach them and protect them that way. No one has ever gotten hurt at my house, for what it's worth.”

“It's like they say about hot stoves--it only takes once for the lesson to sink in.”

Remember, though, when it comes to covering radiators "nothing is going to be cool to the touch if the radiator is doing its job of, well, radiating heat. It has to go somewhere or you're just insulating it and you'll get chilly. Though a little chill might be a worthwhile price to pay." So you'll need to feel comfortable that your room is getting warm but that the radiator is not a risk to your little ones.

 

Heat control:

You may need to turn the radiator off or get a smaller air valve to reduce the amount of steam it draws.

 

Common sense observations:

Radiator covers may make the radiator more attractive & help make the area more kid friendly, they unfortunately cut down the heat!  When they are covered, heat is prevented from radiating out. Covering them may not be the most efficient.

Try getting a convector installed instead.

 

PSP recommendations and further reading:

Plumbers, plumbing, and heating

How to Winterize your Home